By Joel Connelly for Seattle PI – The state of Washington will not allow its aquatic lands along the Columbia River to be used in a major coal export terminal, a decision announced late Tuesday by outgoing State Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark. The decision by Goldmark deals a serious blow to the Millennium Bulk Terminals project, which has already experienced the bankruptcy filing of its parent firm Arch Coal. It is the latest of several blows to the fossil fuel industry in the Northwest. The lands commissioner turned down a request by Northwest Alloys, a subsidiary of Alcoa, to sublease state-owned aquatic lands to Millennium.
By Lucas Davis for The Conversation – This is the worst year in decades for US coal. During the first six months of 2016, US coal production was down a staggering 28 percent compared to 2015, and down 33 percent compared to 2014. For the first time ever, natural gas overtook coal as the top source of US electricity generation last year and remains that way. Over the past five years, Appalachian coal production has been cut in half and many coal-burning power plants have been retired This is a remarkable decline. From its peak in 2008, US coal production has declined by 500 million tons per year — that’s 3,000 fewer pounds of coal per year for each man, woman and child in the United States.
By Erin Baldassari for The Mercury News – OAKLAND — During a raucous four-hour meeting Monday night, the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to ban the storage and handling of coal and petroleum coke in the city. Councilmember Desley Brooks was absent from the meeting. Hundreds of people filled the council chambers, spilling into overflow rooms, and offered several hours of commentary frequently punctuated by cheers, applause and outbursts from audience members on both sides of the issue.
By Suzanne Goldenberg and Helena Bengtsson for The Guardian – Peabody Energy, America’s biggest coal mining company, has funded at least two dozen groups that cast doubt on man-made climate change and oppose environment regulations, analysis by the Guardian reveals. The funding spanned trade associations, corporate lobby groups, and industry front groups as well as conservative think tanks and was exposed in court filings last month.
By Patrick McGinley for The Conversation – Coal’s share of the U.S. energy market is rapidly plunging. Low-cost fracking-generated natural gas has overtaken the use of coal at America’s power plants. Impending implementation of the Obama administration’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which would place stringent regulations on coal-fired power plant emissions, has also helped to drive coal production to its lowest level in decades. Government sources predict further decline. Fifty U.S. coal companies have filed for bankruptcy since 2012.
From Rising Tide of North America. Below is a live blog of tweets reporting on the Break Free protests. For the past week, across the world people have been standing up to power of the fossil fuel industry. Rising Tide North America will be sharing live updates from Break Free actions through the weekend. Tweet from the United States, Canada, Germany and Ecuador. People came on land and on the water. The protested refineries, coal, coal trains and carbon infrastructure. People used banners, processions, sit-ins and tripods — and more. The global uprising across the world called for humanity to break fee from fossil fuels.
By Mitch Jones for Food & Water Watch – Following a recent report from the Department of Energy that 66 percent of natural gas produced in the United States comes from fracked wells and news that March was the third straight “hottest month ever,” Mother Jones has published a piece – for a second time this year – that argues that fracking for natural gas is a valuable, even necessary, tool in the fight against climate change because it displaces coal. Both pieces were written by ClimateDesk Associate Producer Tim McDonnell.
By Mary Anne Hitt for Sierra Club – This is big – for our climate, for clean air and water, for our future. It’s also big because the US government is honoring its treaty obligations. After a five-year struggle that engaged hundreds of thousands of people, on Monday the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a landmark decision todeny federal permits for the biggest proposed coal export terminal in North America, SSA Marine’s proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal, a coal export facility at Xwe’chi’eXen (also known as Cherry Point), Washington.
By Kelly Hayes for Truthout – Missouri activists have long struggled against the environmental devastation, residential displacement and unsafe labor practices of Peabody Coal, the world’s second-largest coal producer, which is based in St. Louis. Peabody’s acts of destruction have been vast and numerous, from contaminating aquifers with toxic coal sludge to its disregard of labor safety standards, and even the looting of sacred Native artifacts. But the company’s recent bankruptcy filing has brought little comfort to those most affected by Peabody’s conquest and avarice.
By Tracy Rucinski for Reuters – Leading global coal producer Peabody Energy Corp (BTU.N) filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection on Wednesday after a sharp drop in coal prices left it unable to service debt of $10.1 billion, much of it incurred for an expansion into Australia. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing ranks among the largest in the commodities sector since energy and metal prices began to fall in mid-2014 as once fast-growing markets including China and Brazil started to slow.
By Luke for DC Indy Media – On the 31st of March, climate activists showed up at the Japanese Embassy to demand that the Prime Minister Abe reject plans for Japanese governmental funding of the planned Batang coal burning power plant in Indonesia. For four years Indonesian activists have stopped the plant and defended the land at the price of arrests and human rights violations. No bank will touch it, so now funding is being sought from the Japanese government.
By Ken Ward Jr. for Charleston Gazette-Mail – Former Massey Energy Co. CEO Don Blankenship, who rose from humble beginnings in Mingo County to become the wealthy and powerful chief executive of one of the region’s largest coal producers, will serve one year in prison and pay a $250,000 fine for a mine safety criminal conspiracy, a judge decided Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Irene Berger sentenced Blankenship to the maximum penalty allowed for his conviction for conspiring to violate federal safety and health laws at Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine, where 29 workers died in an April 2010 explosion.
By Samantha Page for Think Progress – Bangladeshi police opened fire on a group of protestors Monday, killing at least four, according to local news reports. Thousands of people were charged with assault and vandalism in connection with the demonstration against Chinese-financed coal plants on the country’s southeast coast. “We demand an immediate, full and independent inquiry into yesterday’s events to hold those responsible to account for the unnecessary murder of at least four people,” two Bangladeshi groups, National Committee for Saving the Sundarbans and Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, said in an emailed statement.
By Fiona Harvey for The Guardian. Global investment in coal and gas-fired power generation plants fell to less than half that in renewable energy generation last year, in a record year for clean energy. It was the first time that renewable energy made up a majority of all the new electricity generation capacity under construction around the world, and the first year in which the financial investment by developing countries in renewables outstripped that of the developed world. Catherine Mitchell, professor of energy policy at the University of Exeter, said the developments were “extremely significant” and showed a new trend. She said: “We are looking at serious sums of money being invested in clean energy, with the dirtiest forms of fossil fuels the losers. This is the direction of travel that we need to see to have a chance of escaping the worst impacts of climate change.”